Foreword
 
Finding One
 
Finding Two
 
Finding Three
 
Finding Four
 
Florida and the Nation at Large
 
Supporting Tables
 
Methodology
 
About the Author
 
Public Agenda
 
The National Center for Public Policy
 

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Finding Two: Higher Education is More Than Just a Piece of Paper

Floridians have high expectations for what they expect students to take away from a college education. We presented our respondents with a list of factors and asked how important each was as a goal for a college education. The most commonly selected factor is that students learn how to get along with people different from themselves, with 73% of Floridians ranking this as absolutely essential. An almost equally high percentage (72%) say that it is absolutely essential for students to gain a sense of maturity and to learn how to manage on their own.

Although these general interpersonal skills top the list, there are a number of other skills that are rated as absolutely essential by Floridians, such as learning the specific expertise and knowledge in the careers they have chosen (64%), learning high-tech skills (63%), learning to solve problems and think analytically (62%), as well as gaining top-notch writing and speaking skills (61%).

The Florida public also has high expectations for the administrators who run local colleges and universities. For example, 73% say it is absolutely essential for colleges to hire good teachers and researchers, and 60% stress that colleges should ensure that students work hard to achieve high standards.

The majority of people in the state value the education that a student receives, not just the piece of paper. Fifty-nine percent believe that college graduates get higher salaries because having a college degree means someone has skills and accomplishments, as opposed to 34% who think that employers just get impressed by a degree.

The public has high expectations, but they also seem to be pleased with the job Florida's public and private colleges and universities are doing, especially as compared to the performance of the state's high schools. Fifty-seven percent give the state's colleges an excellent or a good rating, as opposed to only 29% who give state high schools a good or excellent rating.

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